Russell will be a tougher team mate than Bottas for Hamilton – Alonso

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso predicts Lewis Hamilton will have a tougher fight on his hands with his new team mate next year.

In brief

Russell “more challenging” than Bottas for Hamilton

George Russell will replace Valtteri Bottas in Mercedes’ driver line-up for the 2022 F1 season. Hamilton will find him a tougher team mate than his predecessor, said Alonso, but his championship chances will depend on “the Mercedes car and the performance.”

“For sure I think he showed his talent in many occasions already, his speed,” said Alonso. “Even last year when he jumped in the Mercedes in Bahrain he was close to the first win. So for sure he is going to be more challenging for Lewis than Valtteri.

“But I think it will be down to Mercedes to provide them a good car and I think he is ready to take the challenge. So it will be interesting to watch for sure.”

Max Verstappen gave a similar assessment of Hamilton’s new team mate last month, saying Russell “will make it very difficult for Lewis”.

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Comment of the day

Concluding the Formula 2 championship at the same time as Formula 1 doesn’t make sense, says Oxnard:

I really don’t get why they keep Abu Dhabi. The F2 season ending all the way back in November (with a two month gap..) is just terrible. Both for the rhythm of the teams and drivers, and superlicence points.

With the season ending so late it’s becoming less and less likely for F2 drivers to make promotion to F1.
Oxnard (@Montalvo)

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  • 40 years ago today Nelson Piquet won his first world championship after rival Carlos Reutemann dropped down the order in F1’s first race at Las Vegas. Alan Jones scored his final win and Derek Warwick made his debut.

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  • 27 comments on “Russell will be a tougher team mate than Bottas for Hamilton – Alonso”

    1. Very astute observations by Hamiltons rivals :)) Russell is not there to be his wing man, he’s there to take over. Yes we will see some good track action between them. I would think there will be minimal team orders until one gets a decisive points lead over the other. The only caveat being Hamilton needs to wrap up his 8th WDC this year, if not then Russell may be asked/told to play a supporting roll.

      1. Russell will probably pushes Hamilton as Leclerc did to Vettel, questioning the champion motivation.
        Hamilton would probably need less help from the team direction, but Toto’s preference for a clear leader will persist*.
        Anyway, given Mercedes remain a winning car in 2022, Russel seems ready to capitalize on any slip by the frontrunners.
        *until contract negotiations restart.

        1. I’m not sure what will happen and I think that TW will just be prepared for any of a few scenarios, because much is going to depend on how all the drivers get along with their new cars, and where the teams sit amongst each other. I can see GR being allowed to compete against LH fully, or I can see him being asked to consider his ‘global’ responsibility. I think a lot will depend on how much of a bother Max is to them. I think as always it’s going to be one race at a time and see how things unfold. Things are such an unknown for next season which is what makes it so exciting. Who knows how the teams will compare, or how the drivers will like their cars and the totally new feel. Safe to say at Mercedes it is LH that would have the upper hand on input into the 2022 effort. But then they do know some things about GR already too. At RBR it will be Max, with perhaps some input from SP since he’s been there this season, but given when the teams started working on these cars, I think mostly Max’s input. I think Ferrari will have likely leaned more on CL’s input. But then, how much is that input from LH, MV, or CL as examples, going to matter when these cars are so different? They know these drivers’ likes and dislikes in a car, but how well can they dial in that driver’s preference for a strong back end or front end or neutral feeling? So fascinating. Can’t wait.

    2. Russell doesn’t need to exhibit too much aggression, he is team leader in waiting. If he just stays calm he is bound to out perform Hamilton. What the team want are drivers who can push each other without playing any underhand games. Hamilton has got on well with Russell and that will continue. Russell must not allow fan pressure get to his head.

      1. I’m not sure how you can say that if GR just stays calm he is bound to out perform LH, but ok, let’s say that happens, I don’t how LH getting along well with GR will continue. If GR outperforms LH the gloves will be off and the relationship will tense up, imho, and LH will be pulling out all the stops, including asking for special strategies. At least, we can hope.

        1. When Button was outracing Lewis in 2011, Lewis didn’t “take off any gloves” as you say. He’s just not that type of character.
          There is no indication that George will be as fast or faster than Lewis so far. George will do well to win a couple qualifyings.

          1. @david-beau When LH and NR were teammates the gloves were off. As well, I was playing off TW’s own words from recent years whenever VB would start the season determined to do more in spite of the lack of competition he was providing against LH, at which point TW would comment that for VB to fight LH more the gloves would have to come off, implying that the chummy relationship would have to take a bit of a hit. I’m quite sure TW, who had re-signed Nico for two more seasons of that tense rivalry but for Nico to retire, understands that with a strong rivalry comes the end of the nicey nicey, after you sir, oh no after you kind sir type of relationship. And that can work as the two drivers push each other.

    3. It’ll be very interesting to see how the intrateam politics at Mercedes play out next year. Will Russell bed himself in with the team quickly enough that the hearts of the team will be split between Lewis and George? Or will Lewis retain his command of the hearts in the Mercedes garage? I think if George spends all his time at the factory this winter while Lewis is off taking part in all his off track activities then it could swing to George and he could get that extra effort that makes a difference when tenths of a second matter. Of course George has a fine line to walk. He needs to be assertive enough to make sure he isn’t walked over but not so assertive that he comes across as arrogant or overly demanding of the team when he is brand new to it.

    4. The way Wolff said Russell must be ‘conditioned’ and ‘calibrated’ means of course he is supposed to be wingman until Hamilton retires, and if Russell falls for that, he will not be a challenge for the next two years.

      The only question if Russell will have other plans, but I’m not so sure. He has seen Wolff blow up in his face at Imola for just daring to challenge the hierarchy even when in a different team, so can imagine what will happen in the same team should he challenge the no. 1 driver.

      It would be ironic if Russell allows himself to be wingman for some years hoping his time will come, and then the Mercedes domination ends at that time, or they get Verstappen and ‘calibrates’ Russell to him.

      1. Russell should indeed go full out. If he listens to Wolff he might miss out on his chance. Look at Max and how many years already have led to nothing since another car is just ahead of everyone. Russell would be blind to accept two years in a supporting role. Besides, it is also completely unnecessary as I feel he has more natural abilities than Lewis has. In 6 races he will be ahead and the team will favor him. Copy paste the Charles en Seb situation. Lewis will leave Mercedes at the end of 22.

    5. It will be interesting to see. Russell is undoubtedly a far better, more rounded driver than Verstappen, so having him in equal machinery will finally give us a true gauge of Hamilton’s abilities.

      1. I guess you mean ‘than Bottas’.

        PS I still see a big learning curve for Russell on Sundays. He is clearly improving, but on Sundays not that impressively better than Latifi.

        1. @jff Nope – I meant Verstappen. People having been talking up Russell like he’s the Second Coming for ages, so I assume by definition he must be head and shoulders above Max too….

          1. People having been talking up Russell

            Maybe should form your own opinion, based on their on track performance.

            1. jff, I think there is a certain amount of tongue in cheek mockery of those who seem to hype just about anything that Russell does, and thus really do make out Russell as some sort of superhuman figure.

              Whatever happens though, there is likely to be a contingent on here who will seek to spin the story in the best possible light for Russell – I suspect that there are many here who are so invested in wanting to see Russell win that they will spin the story in his favour whatever happens.

      2. @mrfabulous
        If you still need a measure of his abilities by popping a new boy with a few points to his name into the team, you have either not been watching or simply don’t wish to see.

      3. I think it’s quite a statement to say Russel is far better than Max.

        The only comparable situation might be F3 but that doesn’t really support this.

        1. If anything, he can become as good as verstappen but needs more experience and he will get that now, in a front running team (however you spin it, gonna be an upgrade on williams 2021).

      4. Khm khm… Well if Russel is even better than Verstappen, that will be awesome to see next year.

        It does make Mercedes look perticilarly foolish for not getting him in the car sooner.

    6. COTD couldn’t be more accurate. F2 seasons shouldn’t have a single unnecessary long gap between two consecutive events for the factors outlined, i.e., rhythm & SL situations (for those who don’t already have one.)
      I made this point before, but YMC should get replaced by Paul Ricard with the campaign, thus ending at Sochi Autodrom.
      I wonder what’s wrong with Circuit Paul Ricard for F2 post-2019?

    7. Bit of an understatement from Alonso. If Hamilton doesnt win this season, he wont win another WDC

      1. I trust Alonso’s assessment more than an average fan’s social media comment.

        1. So, no mind games are here being played?

      2. Alonso does know what he is talking about.. He has been around, and he has seen a lot of racing drivers.

        Now LH is pretty good aswell, just not on his peak performance since Covid.

    8. Lewis is made of solid foundation and I certainly think George will have a hard time keeping up, just wait. Lewis will dismantle him bit by bit. I said it here 1st.

      1. Don’t believe it, he’s already shown signs of decline this year, figure out against a leclerc-like driver.

    9. It depends upon what would Toto do. Russell already follows Toto order before joining the team.

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